It didn't escape his notice that France and Germany conspicuously have been building stronger relationships with us. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she would call for tougher measures against Iran if diplomacy fails, Gordon Brown threatened tougher sanctions, too. But Merkel had the edge, as she showed when she visited the Bushes at Prairie Chapel Ranch. The contrast with her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, who had a frosty relationship with President Bush, said it all.
This month it's Nicolas Sarkozy who's out to win American hearts and minds. His wife dissed the Bushes' invitation to lunch when she visited Maine this summer, but the French prime minister couldn't have been more exuberant in his affection for America than on his visit to Washington this month, showing he has a longer memory than many of his constituents.
"The United States and France remain true to the memory of their common history, true to the blood spilled by their children in common battles," he told a joint session of Congress. "But they are not true merely to the memory of what they accomplished together in the past. They remain true, first and foremost, to the same ideal, the same principles, the same values that have always united them."
Francois Mitterrand, a former prime minister, once boasted that France was in "a permanent war" with America over taste and power. Sarkozy is more observant. "Our children dream of learning about the American way of life and the things that Americans like doing," he writes in his book, "Testimony." Jacques Chirac, the prime minister Americans loathed most, is French toast.
Sarkozy, whom the French sometimes call "Sarko the American," is more like Tony Blair the Englishman in the newest power dynamic, though hardly a poodle, French or otherwise. George W. raised a glass to him in French: "Bienvenue a la Maison Blanche." At my imaginary Thanksgiving table, I would raise my glass in French, German and English, offering appreciation and gratitude for our friendship. So cheers, merci and danke schon. Happy Thanksgiving to us all.